By Joe Henricksen

Eye of the beholder

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By Joe Henricksen

So, who do you like?

Throughout the July evaluation period and in the weeks soon after, it's a common question the Hoops Report and others who take in a whole lot of basketball get. Everyone, particularly college coaching staffs trying to secure commitments prior to the November signing period, is seeking different opinions and thoughts on individual players. And other than the absolute no-brainers -- and we're talking the star-studded players destined for the high-major level -- there is such a wide variety of opinion. It comes down to the eye of the beholder.

Through the years it -- the evaluation process -- hasn't changed all that much. College programs are still looking for players that can play at their level and, hopefully, raise the level of their program. But as one NBA scout has stated, "talent is a narcotic." Coaches get fixated on specific attributes, get addicted to certain strengths and sometimes even hypnotized by the possibilities.

In this day some of the trendsetting vocabulary is athleticism, length and high ceiling. Coaches can say all they want about looking for "players," but they still get so enamored with the player that makes a pass you don't always see, hits a shot only an athlete can make, make an athletic play that turns heads. Coaches still follow around the prospect that comes with the tall tales of the skills, athleticism and potential they possessed as young teenagers, only to plateau and never quite become the player they were expected to be. Those players sometimes never do become the slick and refined talent so many had forecasted, yet due to early hype and becoming a name remain coveted despite obvious limitations.

On the other end of the spectrum in college recruiting and talent evaluating, judgments are quickly made and rubber stamped on certain players. It's as if they are branded with a label and there is nothing that player can do to eradicate it. These are the players that come with the following labels: a little too small, lacks the upside, not a lot of length, not athletic enough or a step too slow.

Obviously if a player is all of the above he's not destined for Division I basketball. But to have one of the so-called deficiencies, well, it's not necessarily a knock on a player but more of what Division I basketball has become. The game is an extremely athletic game and now, more than ever, upside and potential, size and raw athleticism are often more sought out than a player with skills and intangibles.

There aren't many, but there are players that continue to be overlooked in this never-ending search for college basketball players at all levels. There are players that maybe lack the special gifts of pure athleticism and finishing at the rim with a little thunder. Look deep and evaluate long enough and maybe one of those players can play for you -- even if he lacks a couple of inches or is a step too slow.

There are those players with basketball savvy and ones who are confident, but not cocky. In one game that player may control the game with his passing, maybe even without the glitter and flash. Maybe that player has a great instinctive feel for the game, sophistication and the ideal pedigree. He's the player that lets the game dictate what he should and needs to do.

That player just might be extremely hungry, willing to sacrifice and come to each practice and enter each new season with something to prove. Maybe toughness and reliability have already been instilled. They understand help defense, controlling the game and can knock down shots. They have some talent and bring the winning intangibles.

These players are out there, though not in abundance, but today still get overlooked.

Remember, the hot shot or recruiting steal one program gets on signing day in November can also bring with him the baggage coaches can only hope and cross their fingers will turn for the better once on campus. The players who don't like to or know how to play defense, refuse to take weightlifting and strength seriously, don't like to work to get into shape or improve their flaws. Maybe they are too lackadaisical, bring a negative attitude or are even bored with the game. It happens. As talented as they are at 17 and blessed with enormous potential, they sometimes never do get better.

Do you take the kid that's a little bigger, maybe the kid that's a little quicker, or the kid that's a little more athletic but just doesn't get it? There are certainly times to take risks on those players with the untapped potential -- the high risk, high reward type. But it's also not the time to forget taking risks on the kids that can play and get things done.

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8 Comments

MACARI BROOKS FROM RICH SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL WILL GET BETTER, AS WILL PIERRE BROOKS FROM RICH SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL, THESE GUYS ARE REAL ATHLETES AND WILL HAVE STELLAR SEASONS!
THIS WILL BE PIERRE BROOKS THIRD YEAR ON THE VARSITY, IF A COACH IS LOOKING FOR A 6'4" INSIDE PLAYER, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN RICH SOUTH, PIERRE BROOKS IS VERY COACHABLE AND HAS DONE A GREAT JOB FOR COACH SCOT RITTER AND THE STARS!
MARCARI BROOKS HAS JUST TOUCHED THE SURFACE, HE IS BLESSED WITH NATURAL TALENT, AND HAS TWO YEARS REMAINING IN HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGES WILL LOVE HIS ATHLETICISM, HE DOES THINGS YOU CAN'T TEACH, YOU JUST STAND IN AWE OF, HE MAY BE POINT GUARD IN THE MAKING ON THE NEXT LEVEL, JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION!
JUST THINK I DIDN'T EVEN MENTION MR. HEAD, HE HAS HIS DEAL TO U OF I AND I KNOW HE KNOWS WHAT HE HAS TO DO, LOOK OUT FOR THE STARS OF RICH SOUTH, THE HOST TEAM OF THE BEST CHRISTMAS TOURNEY IN THE STATE, THE BIG DIPPER TOURNEY!

Another great thought-provoking blog, Joe! Well done as always.

"the kid that's a little more athletic but just doesn't get it" -- Wow,have I watched a TON of those type this past summer! Great read, Joe!

This past season and summer has been great for soon to be red north contenders Uplift highschool. They have had there highs and there lows theres no doubt about that but with the load of talent they have within there program there should be no problem especially with class of 2011 stars that are currently floating under the radar with up and coming 5'10 185pd guard Michael Hardrick with a deadly shot well beyond the three point arc and a nack for getting the ball in his teamates hands and making plays all while barely breaking a sweat, Devonte Smith a big man at 6'4 181pds who succeeds on the defensive end as well as the offensive and approaches the game wit the up most respect humbleness and maturity that uyou barely see from kids in our present era, Jabril Gushinere who at 6'3 and 180pd can attack the bucket at will and has a natural feel for the game, 5'8 guard David Addo who loves the three but has a sneaky handle a great floor leader and captain and takes his time to run a proper offense , and Dominique Carson a 6'0 177pd guard who strokes the three with the best of his class and gets to the bucket with unorthodox moves to finish strong. These young prospects demand attention and come around winter of 2011 im pretty sure that alot more people will know there names... LOOK OUT FOR THESE YOUNG TALENTS THERE DEFINITELY SET TO DO DAMAGE IN 2011!!!!!!!!!!

I follow the ESCC and saw a kid play against my son last year for Joliet Catholic. Wes Koral (2011). I also saw him play this summer at the Hoop City classic in Kansas. I'm not sure why he's never mentioned. He's about 6 feet 3 tall with a massive verticle and can shoot and handle the rock. He's not Macari Brooks but then again, he has a great outside shot and good ball handling. He can put on a show with dunks! He just plane scores too. Benet has some too in 6 foot guard Sobolewski and a 6'9" kid, Kaminsky, both 2011 players. Nick Valla (2010) at Marist needs some recognition. He plays smart and shoots the lights out. He will be one of the best players in the ESCC this year. St. Joe's has a great upcoming player in Cameron Harvey. He'll be their next McCamey, he's easily the best 2012 player in the ESCC. Pat's has Jacobs and Darbey. You already know about them.

HOPEFULLY CAMERON HARVEY WILL STAY AT HOOPDREAM HIGH ALL FOUR YEARS, REMEMBER DIAMOND BURT, HE IS IN MADISON PLAYING FOR THE BADGERS THIS SEASON, BUT HE FINISHED AT BOLINGBROOK!
GOOD LUCK CAMERON HARVEY, MAYBE YOU WILL GET TO MEET ISIAH THOMAS AND WILLIAM GATES!

Joe, here's my favorite "unknown" player from 2011. That kid from Joliet Catholic (Wes Koral)I mentioned above. A nice write-up in the South Suburban Showcase on him.

http://www.southsuburbanleague.com/South%20Suburban%20Fall%20Showcase%20League%20Newsletter%20Week%202.pdf

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on August 15, 2009 6:36 PM.

Where do the uncommitted stand? was the previous entry in this blog.

Game of the Year in City-Suburban Showdown? is the next entry in this blog.

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